What you need to know:
Officials from Gulu University yesterday told this newspaper that the land has already been availed for the project, which will benefit millions of people.
President Museveni has directed the Ministry of Health to work with its Finance and Education counterparts and the Attorney General (AG) to facilitate a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signing.
The MoU with VAMED Engineering GmbH is expected to speed up the construction of a multibillion specialised modern 324 bed hospital in Gulu District.
When completed, the hospital, expected to sit on 20 acres of land at Gulu University, will serve the people of northern and eastern Uganda, and nearby countries such as South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Officials from Gulu University yesterday told this newspaper that the land has already been availed for the project.
Just yesterday, Mr Museveni wondered why the Minister of Health, Dr Jane Ruth Aceng, whom he had last year assigned to lead the process of expediting the construction of this hospital, had not implemented it.
Officials from VAMED Engineering GmbH, an Austrian firm specialised in construction of hospitals on global scale, in early 2022 met President Museveni and informed him that they can construct this modern hospital using a loan worth €155.2 million (about Shs620.8 billion), which shall be provided by the Germany Export Credit Agency at less than one percent interest rate.
They further told Mr Museveni that they would deliver this hospital with all medical equipment in three years and thus if handed to them then, it would be functional by 2026.
Mr Museveni, in his letter, said officials informed him that they would further manage the hospital for three more years.
“Which is good practice since they will be building capacity for our people to manage the hospital better in future when they leave. In essence, if we hand over the site, we would have our hospital ready for use by the end of 2026. Why should we delay such a project when someone is bringing such money at a very low interest rate and payable over a period of more than 10 years?” the letter reads in part.
Despite directing Dr Aceng to handle the rest of the process, the President, who has issued a new directive, wondered why nothing has been done to date.
“What happened? The purpose of that meeting I directed was to add more specialised areas which are needed in Uganda and to remove those that are not needed so much,” he wondered.
Mr Museveni said government took a deliberate decision to promote healthcare across Uganda and that this hospital would serve the people who have been travelling long distances to get better services in Kampala.
Uganda is currently grappling with low hospital bed capacity, especially in government hospitals. For example, out of the recommended 47,000 beds by the World Health Organisation (WHO), Uganda in 2021 reported having only 3,793 beds. Of these, 3,100 were standard beds, 475 high dependence beds (HDU), and 2,018 for intensive care unit.
The President, who directed the three ministries and the AGl to expedite the MoU signing with VAMED Engineering GmbH, said they (NRM government) will construct a specialised hospital in every region when the economy stabilises in future.
By press time yesterday, Dr Aceng did not answer our repeated calls to comment on the matter. The Health ministry spokesperson, Mr Emmanuel Ainebyoona, declined commenting on the matter saying he didn’t have the information about the project progress.
Two state ministers; Ms Hanifah Kawooya, the in-charge of general duties, and Ms Margaret Muhanga, the in-charge of primary healthcare, when contacted, also referred us to the ministry’s director general of health services, Dr Henry Mwebesa. But he neither answered our repeated calls nor replied to our texts.
Mr Museveni in his letter said Dr Mwebesa, according to his (President’s) people, had met officials from VAMED Engineering GmbH “and they added more specialised areas we need as a country” but did not update him on what happened after.
The AG, whom Mr Museveni directed to work with the Health and Finance ministries towards MoU signing, said his office is working towards the attainment of the project.
The Daily Monitor has seen another letter dated August 29, where the Permanent Secretary for Ministry of Education and Sports, Ms Ketty Lamaro, informed her Health ministry counterpart that Gulu University had availed the required land to them.
The land is located at Gulu forest reserve in Laroo-Pece Division and part of the 70 acres, which Parliament allocated to the University for Expansion in 2020.
The Finance minister, Mr Matia Kasaija, said his ministry is already working towards the signing of the MoU.
Mr James Ojok Onono, the Gulu University communications officer, said the university has received all communications about the progress of the project from the entities President Museveni directed except the Ministry of Health.
“On our side, we are very ready for the project to be real and a big blessing to the people of Uganda and the neighbouring countries. Gulu University Council and Management are committed and prepared to fulfil the wish of the President to have this specialised hospital built at Gulu University. All the other key players are active to their task and roles,” he said.
Uganda is currently grappling with low hospital bed capacity, especially in government hospitals.
For example, out of the recommended 47,000 beds by the World Health Organisation (WHO), Uganda in 2021 reported having only 3,793 beds.
Of these, 3,100 were standard beds, 475 high dependence beds (HDU), and 2,018 for intensive care unit.